BIO Says, DOE Grants Will Jumpstart Commercialization of Ethanol from Cellulose

BIO thanks the Bush administration for taking dramatic new steps to transform biotech breakthroughs into commercial realities.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 28, 2007) – The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today thanked Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and the Bush administration for announcing awards of cost-share grants for construction of new commercial biorefineries, which represent a dramatic step toward commercializing industrial biotechnology in the production of ethanol, chemicals, and biobased products from cellulose.

Jim Greenwood, BIO president and CEO, said, “Skeptics have been saying that commercialization of cellulosic technologies for ethanol production is years away, but the technology for production of ethanol from cellulosic crop residues is ready now. The grants announced today by Secretary Bodman will help bring more ethanol motor fuel to the pump within the next few years, helping to reduce both our reliance on imported oil and our emissions of greenhouse gases. The Bush administration’s actions today underscore how public policies such as grants and incentives can accelerate the development of new biofuels technologies and the production of large volumes of alternative fuels. We are grateful for the President’s decisive leadership on this important issue. This is a win for the consumer, for our rural economies and for the environment.”

The awards announced today implement Section 932 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to fund construction of regional commercial scale demonstration biorefineries that produce transportation fuels, chemical and biobased products from biomass. The awards allow both construction of new biorefineries and expansion of existing ethanol refineries to include large scale cellulosic processing units.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, said, “The construction of large-scale biorefineries to convert cellulosic biomass to ethanol and other useful consumer products is a critical step toward bringing recent industrial biotech breakthroughs to the market. The demonstration biorefineries built with today’s announced grants will help rapidly advance the learning curve, reduce the costs, and increase the efficiency of producing ethanol from cellulose. These grants should also send a very strong signal to the investment community that commercialization of biofuels and biobased products from cellulose is a near-term certainty. The federal government will now share the risk in financing new cellulosic biofuels units in every region of the country.”

BIO supports the production of ethanol from all feedstocks. Agricultural biotechnology is helping to increase corn yields, while industrial biotechnology is helping to convert corn starch and crop residues into ethanol more efficiently. With ongoing advances in biotechnology, biofuels can help America meet nearly half its transportation-fuel needs by the middle of this century.

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.